When you have a baby everyone warns you about the “baby blues” and postpartum depression (PPD). However, not enough moms are also educated about other ways your postpartum recovery can impact your mental health and, ultimately, other parts of your life. If you have followed the blog for a while, you know I am no stranger to discussing mental health and its impact on your finances and other parts of your life. Being aware of your own mental health is a key component of living a financially successful life. More importantly, it is key to living a happy life. That’s why I decided to open up here about postpartum anxiety.
What is Postpartum Anxiety?
Postpartum anxiety affects between 10 and 15 percent of new moms. To put it simply, PPA is a constant generalized and irrational sense of fear and worry. New moms have a lot put on their shoulders, but moms with PPA are worrying all day everyday about, well, everything. It is fairly similar to regular anxiety but the increase in anxious feelings are linked to having a new baby. PPA symptoms can vary, but many moms experiencing anxiety have some (or all) of the following symptoms.
- General sense of dread or danger
- Racing thoughts – all day long
- Constantly feeling on edge
- Persistent worry about the baby (health, safety, development)
- Overwhelming sense of burden and concern about being a good parent
- Feeling jittery and agitated
- Trouble falling asleep even if you’re exhausted
- Changes in heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pains and panic attacks
- Chills and hot flashes
Why Don’t People Talk About PPA More?
Just about everyone I know has heard of postpartum depression, but no one talks about new moms with PPA. In fact, I didn’t even know it was a thing until I found out I was suffering from it. I walked around for a few months thinking I was just going crazy or overreacting to the new pressures of being a mom. Silently, I told myself to stop being dramatic and suck it up.
That didn’t stop things from continuing to be heavy. It didn’t stop my blood pressure from spiking at every small thing. It did not stop the eventual panic attack that lead me to re-evaluate my mental health.
Like the “baby blues,” some level of worry and anxiety is normal as a new parent. Constant worry everyday, on the other hand, is not. The problem is, despite the postpartum packets they give you at the hospital and all the educational materials out there, moms are made to feel like they can do it all. Don’t get me wrong, they can do it all. They shouldn’t have to though, and when family members and friends see they are struggling, they should step up.
How Educating Yourself About Mental Health Will Improve Your Life
I’m working on managing my PPA. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and making time to just be myself again are all helping me. But that doesn’t work for everyone. Some new moms with PPA, PPD, or postpartum psychosis will need additional help from doctors to find a balance again. The way forward lies in better education about the effects of pregnancy on your mental health.
Even if you aren’t expecting or recovering, educating yourself about mental health problems can make a huge difference in your own life. You can recognize when you are feeling anxious or depressed, making you more self aware. It can also help you avoid making poor financial decisions or life decisions based on the way you’re feeling in that moment.
If you’re still reading and have a new mom friend, check in on her. Mommin’ ain’t easy and, most of the time, she feels like she is alone. Let her know she isn’t, even if you only come over to watch her little one while she showers. Just having a moment to breathe can lift a huge burden off her shoulders.
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Amanda Blankenship is the Director of Social Media for District Media. In addition to her duties handling everything social media, she frequently writes for a handful of blogs and loves to share her own personal finance story with others. When she isn’t typing away at her desk, she enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, and dog. During her free time, you’re likely to find her with her nose in a book, hiking, or playing RPG video games.
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